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Essential Oils Box

author-gravatar Clock_Man Dec 18, 2017

I enjoy signing up for the Reddit Secret Santa each year to give myself something new to try. I generally do boxes as they fit in flat rate packages fairly well, and this year was no different. This box is modeled after the Jasmine Jewelry Box designed by Gary Rogowski featured in Popular Woodworking and on The Wood Whisperer's website. 

I unfortunately was under a time crunch and came down with a bad cold in the middle of construction so I had to forgo the breadboard ends on the lid and feet on the body. Nevertheless, it provided several new techniques and learning experiences for me to experience.

Everything starts out as a few pieces of wood. I chose my size on this to fit inside a medium flat rate box. Things ended up being a little tighter than I would have liked, but I still was able to fit the box in. Overall height of the body is 2.25" without the lid. 

I scribed my baselines just like I would if I was doing dovetails. The only difference here is the length of the joint is somewhat arbitrary. The only requirement is that the baseline is at a minimum the thickness of the stock. I wanted the joints to be proud, so I gave the measurement an extra 3/16" on top of the material thickness.

Here I'm roughly marking what I want my finger thickness to be. I set the fence to 3/4" which is 1/3 the material width for even finger spacing.

The heart of this technique is using the bandsaw to cut the joints. To cut both sides, you just rotate the piece so you use each side as a reference and make it symmetrical. These cuts are for the 'mortise' section of the joint. (e.g. the center piece will be removed)

The next step is to make a spacer that fits the saw kerf snugly. I ripped some cherry on my tablesaw using a thin rip jig. It's a little trial and error to get a fit you're comfortable with.

Using the spacer you can then cut the matching tenon to your mortise piece we cut earlier. The spacer moves your piece so the kerfs are offset so the tenon will fit snugly in the mortise piece. 

You can see the gap in the top of this joint. It was far too lose for any kind of acceptable joint. If I didn't hold both pieces it would fall apart.

All it took to snug this joint up was to add a piece of blue tape to the spacer I cut. If the joint had still been loose, I would have added another piece of tape until it was satisfactory. You can see the joint holds together without problem.

I like this method over recutting the space because it's a known increment of increase instead of guessing at the spacer again.

I used my fret saw to clear 95% of the waste, just like cutting dovetails. This could have been done on the bandsaw, but whatever, I like it quiet. I followed up by chiseling to the baseline.

I needed to futz with two of the corners, but everything holds together nice and snug. I shoot to have my joints hold together without glue, but that I don't need a mallet to put it together or pull it apart.

Gary used a router table to put the groove in his box, but I sold mine a year ago. I find a plunge base to be much nicer to use than trying to drop this onto a table.

I would normally like to put a solid panel in the base here, but I'm going plywood because I don't want to bother with movement and whatnot. The groove worked fairly well.

I did get the grooves to match, now I just have to clean up the stopped portions and remove the round profile left by the bit.

Groove check on all corners. Looking ok.

I made a rough mark of where the side hits the front and back here. Since this portion is fully hidden, I don't stress if things aren't perfectly matched when assembled.

Stop cleaned up and matches the through groove on the side piece. I lucked out on this one and got it pretty bang on.

I test fit the bottom and it seemed to go well. I had to trim off 1/16" after this because it was a little too tight for my liking. I want somewhere for glue to go when I'm slamming this thing together.

With the exposed and proud joinery I wanted something to spice it up a little bit. A chamfer here and there really dress this piece up. I think this is a much classier look than planing these portions flush.

Better shot of the joinery.

I skipped over making up the lid because it was literally slapping a bunch of boards together. Normally this top would feature breadboard ends to dress it up, but I don't have the advantage of time to do that. For this reason I'm stuck with a solid plank and hope that the seasonal movement doesn't potato chip this thing. 

The Jasmine box has a pull in the middle of the lid, which I frankly do not like. I chose to do a half mortise pull on this lid. The maple matches the interior bottom with the light color contrast. I used double stick tape here to make sure it was solid while I transfered the location to the lid.

Rough layout marks help keep things on point.

I knifed in the location, made sure the edges were defined with some chisel work, then got out the router.

Traditional me would have done this with chisels and a router plane. Time crunch me grabbed the trim router and a 1/4" sprial bit and hogged out 99% of the material. I used a chisel to bring things to the scribe marks. 

A light undercut on the back and sides help make sure that the pull sits nice and snug. Otherwise I'd run the risk of having fit issues and gaps on the transition points.

Now that I've sorted the body and lid I'm moving on to the internal dividers. I couldn't plane these to final thickness so I had to run down the street to my friend who has a drum sander to bring these to final thickness. I cleaned up the edges with a handplane in two batches. This way I get more done and I have a wider bearing surface for my plane.

A smarter man would have done this before slicing them up and making them super thin. Durr.

Smart Me: Bundling the dividers with blue tape to make sure they're all the same dimension when I cut them to length.

Stupid Me: Not having the shooting board made so cutting these to length was about as 100x as painful and nerve wracking as it should have been.

More trial and error getting the half lap joints just right. I could have just overshot the joint and let them sit in the box, but I wanted a good registration so I could use a dap of CA to hold everything in place. 

No jiggery here, just a lot of cut, measure, mark, and repeat. That's the chore of these small projects, I don't have a desire to jig things up I know I'll likely never do again. 

Dividers look good. I left the back ones wider because I'm good at math and knew that an internal spacing of 1 1/8" would yield 7 equal slots.  I'm an idiot. 

It's a feature, totally a valid feature. 

Moving on to hinge mortises. Nothing new here, lay the hinge down, knife it in, chisel it out. 

Rinse and repeat.

Here I put a dab of CA glue on each of the half lap joints to hold the grid together. I needed something to keep slight pressure, Vertias to the rescue.

Sanity check to make sure I'm not an idiot with my sizing. Thankfully it fits with enough room to grab.

Not sure how I feel about the pull. It works for now.

Pro tip: Don't try and support a solid lid by propping something against the unsupported edge of the divider grid. IT WILL NOT SUPPORT IT.

Brusso never disappoints.

1 comment

Excellent work, Scott! Nice and crisp chamfers look great too.

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